Cubs starting catcher Welington Castillo is disabled list bound with a rib cage injury suffered Sunday and they’ve called up journeyman backup catcher Eli Whiteside from Triple-A to replace him on the roster.
Chicago also welcomed Hector Rondon back from paternity leave and designated for assignment reliever Jose Veras, who was signed to a one-year, $4 million deal this offseason with the idea that he’d serve as the team’s closer. Instead he ended up saving zero games before being dropped with an 8.10 ERA in 13 innings.
Veras has generally been a setup-caliber reliever and as recently as last season had a 3.02 ERA with 60 strikeouts in 62 innings for the Tigers and Astros, but it seems unlikely that another team would want to take on his remaining salary via waiver claim.
Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.
Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.
Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.